Causes and Types of Acne

Most people will experience acne at some point in their lives. While many of us have seen the occasional zit or a more widespread outbreak, it can be difficult to know the difference between a routine pimple and a more serious condition that requires medical attention. Whether you’re an adult with your first whitehead in years or a teenager struggling to find a treatment for cystic acne, this overview of acne causes and types can help you quickly find the information and resources you’re looking for.

What Causes Acne?

The type of acne you have will determine the treatment you need. Most people are familiar with the typical whiteheads and blackheads, but more severe types of acne can be difficult to identify. What’s more, it can be difficult to know if or when you need to seek medical attention for excessive inflammation, widespread lesions, or possible infection.

Acne can have several causes, but most lesions are caused by two different phenomena.

  • Acne Vulgaris: Acne vulgaris, also known as hormonal acne, is caused by an overproduction of sebum. Sebum is the oily substance that keeps skin soft and pliable, but in excess, it can clog pores and cause inflammation. Oil excess is typically triggered by hormonal changes, such as periods of high emotional or physical stress, puberty, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause.
  • Acne Mechanica: Acne mechanica is a common type of acne for people who are active. This acne is caused by friction, either between skin or between skin and clothing. Most of the patients we see for acne mechanica are high school athletes and those who wear headbands and hats. Seasonal clothing changes can easily trigger this form of acne, as can a lack of personal hygiene.

There are several common types of acne: comedones, which are blackheads and whiteheads, papules, pustules, cysts, and nodules. But what’s the medical difference between a whitehead and a blackhead? Is a pimple the same as a lesion? Knowing the nuances in acne terms can be difficult, and that can lead to misidentification and trouble finding appropriate treatment. If you’re struggling to identify the lesions appearing on your body, it can be helpful to learn more about the types of acne and their symptoms in order to figure out how to treat it.


Adult vs. Teenage Acne

Many people think teenagers are the only people who develop acne, but this is far from the truth. Adult acne has been on the rise for the past several years; more people over 30 are experiencing breakouts today than ever before. While treatment methods are similar, some acne conditions are more common in teens or adults.

In all cases, the most important part of acne care is receiving fast and effective treatment. Our dermatologists can work with you to develop a treatment plan that works for your skin and lifestyle – whether you’re a teenager experiencing acne or a person with adult acne. We can also help you determine if the bumps on your skin are acne lesions or something else, like a wart or growth.

Seeing a Dermatologist for Acne

Whether you’re unsure of the type of acne spreading across your face or can’t find relief for large, painful outbreaks, our team at Zel Skin & Laser Specialists can give you the answers you need. Most acne breakouts are best treated by a dermatologist. Even if you’re sure you can identify the type of acne you’re experiencing, contact us to schedule an appointment or virtual visit today. When it comes to skin care, it never hurts to be too safe.